Long-dominant artists’ agency shutting down

Columbia Artists Management Inc. (CAMI), which for 90 years has been the leading agency representing classical musicians in the US, is shutting down on Aug. 31.

CAMI has represented a stellar roster of instrumentalists, singers, orchestras, conductors and other artists. Its current roster includes pianists Maurizio Pollini and Denis Matsuev, violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Gidon Kremer, conductors Valery Gergiev and Seiji Ozawa, and many leading US and European orchestras.

Also on its conductors’ roster is George Manahan, the former Richmond Symphony music director who has been serving as the orchestra’s music advisor and will conduct its Sept. 18-20 season-opening Masterworks concerts.

CAMI was founded in 1930 by Arthur Judson, initially in partnership with William S. Paley, the founder and chief executive of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Initially, the agency was known as Columbia Concerts Corp. Judson at the time also was manager of the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. During his long tenure at CAMI, Judson was reputed to all but dictate the choice of music directors of many of the major US orchestras. Several conductors who had fallen out with him blamed Judson for hampering their careers.

CAMI also operated a community concerts subsidiary, which brought prominent classical artists to smaller towns and cities around the country.

From 1970 to 2015, CAMI was run by Ronald Wilford, and maintained its dominance among management agencies for classical artists.

A statement from the agency said its demise was hastened by “a prolonged pandemic environment,” during which live classical-music events have all but ceased.

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